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Contending that a Rutgers professor and public schools advocate has used her position, title and state university resources to wage a personally driven campaign against them, a group representing the state’s charter schools has filed an ethics complaint against the Save Our Schools NJ co-founder.
The complaint, filed with New Jersey State Ethics Commission, charges Julia Sass Rubin violated the State’s Conflict of Interest Law and Uniform Ethics Code, as well as the University’s Code and Policies for faculty employees.
“We cannot sit back and allow our accomplishments, our achievements, to be questioned in the way that they have been questioned by Dr. Sass Rubin,” said Michael Turner, spokesperson for the New Jersey Charter Schools Association.
Rubin, an associate professor at the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, said the complaint appears to be an effort to silence her ability to write about education policy and to speak and advocate on behalf of public school students.
“That is a violation of my academic freedom and of my rights as a citizen,” Rubin said.
Rubin co-authored a report in October showing that charter schools in New Jersey educate significantly smaller percentages of poor students, special education students and students from non-English speaking families than the public school districts in which they are located.
The report was co-authored by Rutgers graduate student Mark Weber, who blogs as “Jersey Jazzman,” and funded in part by a grant from an emeritus professor’s foundation. Neither Rubin nor Weber, who has expressed his own concerns about charter schools, identified themselves beyond their affiliation with Rutgers, the complaint contends.
Rubin has also supported the concept of requiring voter approval before charters could open in a town.
The complaint, filed Monday lists a series of occasions in which Rubin either testified before the state Board of Education, wrote editorials or publicly expressed her opinions using her title as an associate professor at Rutgers University. In some cases, she was also acting as a volunteer for Save our Schools NJ, which advocates against charter schools, the complaint says.
The NJCSA said it previously attempted to engage Rubin on the merits of her arguments, but said it chose to file the ethics complaint after her recent report on the demographics of charter schools. Rubin has said she will release two more reports on charter schools.
“The NJCSA has filed this complaint today to ensure appropriate corrective action is taken before Dr. Sass Rubin releases her personal views as Rutgers research and creates further embarrassment for Rutgers University,” the association said in a statement.
Rutgers does not comment on personnel matters, spokesperson EJ Miranda said.
The complaint suggests Rubin be directed to refrain from using her Rutgers title in any activity on behalf of or coordinated in any way with Save Our Schools New Jersey. Alternatively, she could be directed to withdraw from her involvement in outside organizations, the complaint suggests.
“Every activity of mine that the association included in their complaint falls under what is not a lobbying communication,” Rubin said.
Rubin was criticized by charter school supporters after her report in October. The NJCSA said it lacked perspective about whether school districts’ student enrollment reflects the demographics of the community.
It also challenged the reasoning of the report, saying it amounted to “debating whether charter school children are ‘really, really poor and disadvantaged’ or just poor and disadvantaged.’”
Rubin has since said the same discussion about demographics should be had about magnet schools. She responded to critics of her October report with an editorial saying personal attacks were counter productive.
“Shooting the messenger is certainly not a new tactic,” she wrote. “But it does not move us any closer to finding solutions to the problem of charter vs. district segregation.”
Source: NewJersey.com by Adam Clark
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